Flower Power | Long lunch at Lima Floral, 14 Garrick Street, Covent Garden, London WC2E 9BJ
We don’t want to sound naive but up until a year or so ago we hadn’t tried any Peruvian food at all. All that I knew is that a friend of mine went traveling through South America and came back with tales of eating roasted guinea pig (or cuy – the more innocent sounding local name!)
And then at the Streets of Spain food festival on our eyes were opened in spectacular fashion when I tried my first little bowl of Ceviche (from Tierra Peru). I couldn’t stop raving about it and when Señor Ceviche set up permanent residency at Kingly Court, we were one of the first through the door.
But Peruvian cuisine is so much more than fresh raw fish cured in citrus juices (and guinea pig) as world-renowned Peruvian chef, Virgilio Martinez can testify. Virgilio is chef patron of Central in Lima, Peru, which is ranked #15 of the list of San Pellegrino’s 50 Best Restaurants in the World and named The San Pellegrino Best Restaurant in Latin America.
Not happy with his domination of South America, Virgilio set his sights on conquering London and opened LIMA Fitzrovia with Robert Ortiz, his longtime friend running the kitchen. After becoming the first Peruvian restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star we all knew that it wouldn’t be long till another LIMA would be launched.
And that other LIMA was LIMA Floral, we headed there to test drive their Long lunch (£30). We were very tempted to try the Andean Breakfast (£18), but it’s only available till 12.30 and we love our Sunday morning lay ins too much (especially as the clocks went forward this particular weekend).
LIMA Floral is bright and airy, being on the corner of Floral Street and Garrick Street, daylight streams in through large windows at the front and side of the restaurant. The white-painted brickwork contrasts perfectly with the cobalt blue walls and large weaved rugs hang strategically around the room. On the back wall is a huge painted feature wall of Peruvian art – whether it be traditional or contemporary I don’t know. Whatever it is, it adds a huge burst of colour.
Option two on the menu is the amazing value Long Lunch, that comes with an almost unbelievable Prosecco offer – four glasses for only £10. The lunch comes with four small plates as starters, a choice of four mains, a couple of sides each and a trio of desserts to share. Here’s a brief rundown of each colourful and incredible dish. The staff explained every dish in detail to us and were on hand to answer any annoying and stupid questions that we had.
STARTERS TO SHARE
• Sea Bream Ceviche – Choclo corn and sweet potato. The tangy Peruvian classic swimming in a lake of Tiger’s milk – enough said!
• Huancaina Beef – popcorn, coriander and cress. Sliced rare seared beef on Huancaína (wan-kay-eena) sauce made with aji amarillo peppers and sprinkled with coriander and micro cress.
• Tuna Tiradito – Rocoto, coriander and lemongrass. A variation of the classic Ceviche, cured tuna coated in a red pepper sauce. Our favourite starter by far!
• Steamed Dumplings Asian Style – Two little vegetable dumplings served with a chilli soy sauce. I found this dipping sauce too rich, but Saff adored it and wanted to take the leftovers home with us.
MAINS FOR ONE (choice of 1)
• Beef Lomo – Cassava, yellow chilli, Asian flavours. Saff went for this typical Peruvian dish, this tenderloin cut served with roasted Cassava, a South American root vegetable – fruity and robust flavours, gorgeous.
• Chicken Pachamanca – Salsa criolla, cuzco corn. My chicken pieces were marinated and topped in a mild chilli sauce served with sweet lime juice mixed with tangy red onions and curzo corn – basically a giant sweetcorn from the Andes.
• Hot and Spicy Hake Sudado – Seaweed, tree tomato.
• Wild Mushrooms – Huancaina sauce, fresh cheese, avocado.
• Quinoa and Eco-Dried Potatoes.
• Green Kale and Vegetables.
I loved the eco-dried potatoes, although they weren’t dried the eco way or by any other means. In fact they were creamy and moist and delicious (I ate half of Saff’s portion too). Quinoa is just quinoa, well that’s my opinion but the crispy fried kale really made the seasonal vegetables something special. The menu also states Tiger’s Milk but it wasn’t till we got home that we realised that this wasn’t served up. Oh well.
DESSERTS (three to share)
• Coffee Ice Cream – delicious dense and creamy with a strong espresso flavour. Surrounded by a cacao crumble and brightly coloured meringue.
• Aguaymanto – These dried Peruvian ground cherries soaked in agave syrup really mess with your brain. They start off by looking and tasting like a giant currant untill you start chewing, then transmogrify into the flavour of fig!
• Alfajores – Another traditional and very popular South America recipe. Dulce de leche sandwiched between two delicate and crumbly round biscuits dusted with icing sugar – almost worth moving to Peru for!
To drink I went for the Prosecco Offer (4 glasses for £10). First Saff opted for a Pacifico Smoothie (£4) a refreshing blend of orange, banana, pineapple and basil. She then pulled a stroke of genius and ordered a Pisco Sour Clásico (£8), this is the best Pisco sour that we’d EVER tasted and if Grace Dent can be believed, the best in London. We really wish we had time for more but our two-hour slot was almost over, luckily there’s the Pisco Bar downstairs serving a full range of sours, cocktails and a separate food menu. Plus in the summer LIMA Floral are opening a terrace perfect for Pisco-ing the night away!
We thought we had just about enough time to try an Emoliennte (£2.50), envisaging them coming in little glasses due to the low price. These after brunch soul cleansers are apparently a powerful drink for any weather according to the menu, whatever that means. I had the Barley, lemon and pineapple, Saff had Purple Corn, Andean mint, linseed, plums and rosemary. Both were a lot bigger than we had imagined and not at all how we thought they’d taste – we actually preferred each other’s so we swapped.
We could quite happily have sat there all afternoon drinking those amazing Pisco Sours and eating this incredibly colourful and exquisite Peruvian cuisine. At such good value, we’d certainly revisit, it’s great that places like this offer such reasonable deals, making restaurants people wrongly assume are too expensive more accessible. Roll on summer, roll on drinks on the terrace!
Brunch and Long Lunch is available on Saturdays from 10:30am to 2:30pm – Sundays from 10:30am to 3:00pm. Time Limit on Table is 2 hours – Last Kitchen Order is 15 mins after above times.
Monday to Tuesday: 12 midday – 11:30pm (last kitchen order at 10:30pm)
Wednesday to Friday: 12pm – 12am (last kitchen order at 11pm)
Saturday: 12:30pm – 12am (last kitchen order at 11pm)
Sunday: 12pm– 5pm (last kitchen order at 3.30pm)
Nearest station: Leicester Square (2 mins walk) Covent Garden (2 mins walk)
We ate as guests of Lima Floral, this does not affect our review in any way. We always write with complete honesty.